Wilko Johnson, an English guitarist and singer of the band Dr. Feelgood, who also played executioner Ser Ilyn Payne on HBO’s Game of Thrones, died Monday. He was 75.
“This is the announcement we never intended to make, and it is with a very heavy heart that we do this: Wilko Johnson has passed away. He died at home on Monday November 21st. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson,” his official Twitter account posted Wednesday.
This is the announcement we never intended to make, and it is with a very heavy heart that we do this: Wilko Johnson has passed away. He died at home on Monday November 21st. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.
(Image: Leif Laaksonen) pic.twitter.com/1cRqyi9b9X
— Wilko Johnson (@wilkojohnson) November 23, 2022
In 1971, with Lee Brilleaux and John B. Sparks, Johnson formed Dr. feel good Playing a distinctive style of British pub rock and R&B, they toured the ’70s with energetic performances. Their breakthrough album Stupidity reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart, but Johnson left the group a year later in 1977. He went on to form the Wilko Johnson Band, with whom he played until his death.
On television, Johnson’s only role was as Payne in seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones. Payn, known as King’s Justice, was the royal executioner who was ordered to kill beloved Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) near the end of season one. He had his tongue cut off during the reign of the mad king, making him the perfect man, silent killer.
“They said they wanted someone really creepy to go around staring at people with daggers before killing them,” Wilko said in a 2011 interview. “That made it easy. Staring at people is what I do all the time, it’s like second nature to me… The first day I had to glare at this girl. So I kind of amazed her. After that, the American director came up to me and said: ‘Wilko, you don’t have to be scary. They’re scary.'”
In 2013, he was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer, chose not to undergo chemotherapy and was given 10 months to live. His Game of Thrones role was then cut and he embarked on a farewell tour and recorded a final album with Who’s lead singer Roger Daltrey in 2014. After undergoing surgery, he was declared cancer-free later in the year.
Among the musicians paying tribute to Johnson was Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, who wrote: “I am saddened to learn of the passing of Wilko Johnson, the guitarist and singer/songwriter for Dr. Feel good to hear it. I saw Wilko perform at Koko in Camden in May 2013 and the atmosphere was electric. This show was originally billed as his farewell tour. But thankfully, he continued to perform until recently, wowing crowds. I really admired him and we will all miss him. RIP Wilko.”
Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos said: “His unique, wiry playing style and stage presence have delighted and inspired many guitarists, myself included. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he was bright, thoughtful and an amazing storyteller, carving legends from life. His presence on this planet will be felt for many years to come.”
Johnson leaves behind two sons, Matthew and Simon. His wife Irene Knight died of cancer in 2004.
https://variety.com/2022/music/obituaries-people-news/wilko-johnson-dead-game-of-thrones-ilyn-payne-1235440677/ Wilko Johnson dead: Ilyn Payne and guitarist of “Game of Thrones” were 75 years old